Symbolism Of The Sea In Kate Chopin's The Awakening

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Author Manly Hall once said, “Symbolism is the language of the Mysteries. By symbols men have ever sought to communicate to each other those thoughts which transcend the limitations of language.” Throughout Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Chopin utilizes symbolism in order to critique society. Chopin uses the symbolism of birds throughout the book, the birds represent Edna’s attempt to escape society, the expectations, and the prejudices of society, with the bird symbolism, Chopin is critiquing patriarchy, and mothers, and how they conform to society’s standards. Chopin uses the symbolism of the sea to represent the freedom and escape from society, with the sea symbolism, she is critiquing society and its overbearing rules and expectations. Chopin…show more content…
The beautiful sound of the sea constantly calls out to Edna, as Chopin says, “The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude.” When Edna commits suicide at the end of the book, she is finally giving in to the power and true depth of the ocean. Edna’s suicide was her one true way to escape society, as she is exhausting herself trying to get away from it all. Chopin, using the symbolism of the sea, is critiquing society’s overbearing rules and expectations, and how trying to escape those rules and expectations are near impossible to do. If one tries to escape society and the rules and expectations that come with it, if someone succeeds at doing it, then it is a triumphant accomplishment, but the attempt to escape is very difficult and may end just like Edna’s attempt to do so. The sea also serves as a reminder that her awakening was also a rebirth of sorts. In the sea’s infinite expanse, it serves as a symbol of the strength, power, and the supreme loneliness of independence. The sea represented exactly what Edna wants, the emptiness and vastness of the sea would mean total freedom for Edna, so it is only right for her to die there. In many ways, Edna’s death was not harsh or violent, it was peaceful, her death only marked a turning point for society. When more women think and act like Edna and break…show more content…
At the beginning of the book, Edna is not exposing herself, however, slowly over the course of the story, she removes her clothing. This emphasizes her shedding society’s rules throughout her awakening, when Chopin says, “But when she was there beside the sea, absolutely alone, she cast the unpleasant, pricking garments from her, and for the first time in her life she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her.” This emphasizes that Edna has shed everything in her path of individuality and has become reborn as a new person. But Edna is not only symbolized in clothes, Adele is more cautious in exposing her face and in chapter seven she wears a veil when walking on the beach with Edna. Both Adele and Madame Lebrun make clothing to cover their bodies, while Mademoiselle Reisz and the woman in black never change their clothes, meaning they have no regard for how they look, indicating they are not following their expectations by society. This goes to show how Chopin wants society to be, she wants people to shed themselves of the societal rules in their life, she wants people to stop giving in to the rules. Moreover, Chopin is evincing through the subtle symbolism that society is in need of change, and people need to start reflecting on themselves and see how society is controlling
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